Plan aims to make the waterfront a happening place

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:01 22/08/2013

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Nelson City Council is moving ahead with a plan to develop an area of Wakefield Quay.

Councillor Pete Rainey, who had been helping to drive the project, said today it was based on ideas presented to the council late last year by Nelson architects and designers.

They held a workshop to explore ways to develop public spaces on the waterfront. Mr Rainey said the properties included in the development concept plan are at the sites previously occupied by Four Seasons and Reliance Engineering, alongside the Anchor Building and the Customhouse Hotel.

The council last year spent $2.4 million on the two sites with the aim of being able to use them to extend its city-to-the-sea project.

The council is using the Four Seasons building as temporary storage, and marine engineering firms have been using the Reliance building as needed. Plans to develop the properties will be discussed at a meeting on September 13.

Mr Rainey said the idea was a result of the work done by a 28-strong group of architects, landscape architects, designers and artists plus planners from the Nelson and Tasman councils who got together for a day-long exercise.

He said Ian Jack, of Irving Smith Jack Architects, was preparing concept drawings.

"The concept plans show how the whole area could be opened up for retail, hospitality and recreation opportunities, while at the same time increasing parking availability, and developing shared pathway connections between the waterfront and the city," Mr Jack said.

Mayor Aldo Miccio said the plans were a concept, but provided a platform for discussion.

"The idea is based upon enhancing the waterfront to create business opportunities, a safe and more attractive environment, while protecting our heritage buildings," he said.

Mr Miccio said the project would also enhance the area as a tourism destination.

Mr Rainey said the council, despite not being the owner of the Anchor building or Customhouse building, still had a responsibility to protect their future.

He said each of them were significant buildings which he was sure "held a special place in the hearts of Nelsonians".

Mr Rainey said council plans to safeguard the waterfront precinct would also allow opportunities to secure future possibilities for the area, and package it for developers' consideration.

"The potential for that corner to be absolutely buzzing is just huge."

He said it was heartening Port Nelson was willing to look at altering boundaries to accommodate changes.

"We have consulted with Port Nelson chief executive Martin Byrne, who has indicated the company could be interested in looking at slight boundary adjustments, that could give greater access to the sites as well as the potential for sympathetic development of the historic shed 1.

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Shed 1, at 272 Wakefield Quay on the waterfront near Guytons fish shop, was used as a temporary gallery space during arts festival events in late 2011.

Mr Miccio said final work would be presented to councillors, developers and the public to consider.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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